Monday, January 18, 2010

Josias McComas, Henry Willis-1795.



Mr. ROBERTSON, from the Committee on Private Land Claims, to whom was referred the petition of Josias H. McComas and wife, reported:

That it is stated by the petitioners in their petition, that in the year 1791 the father of the wife, petitioner, Henry Willis, living in South Carolina, went to the then district of Natchez, now State of Mississippi, and obtained from the Spanish governor at New Orleans a concession for 800 arpens of land on Bayou Sara, about fifteen miles from its mouth, dated 23d May, 1791, which was surveyed about the 21st day of December, 1791.

It is further stated in the said petition, that in 1791 the said Willis became entitled, by purchase, to a concession for 500 arpens of laud in the said district, adjoining the said 800 arpens, granted to one James Sanders in 1787. That, at the close of the year 1791, the said Willis returned to South Carolina for the purpose of removing his family to the lands in the Natchez district, and of living on and cultivating them agreeably to the requisitions of the Spanish Government; but that in 1793 being nearly prepared for his contemplated removal to Bayou Sara, he died; leaving the wife, petitioner, and an infant son, and his widow his only heirs; and that the son shortly afterwards died, and the widow married a Mr. Chotard, who being appointed guardian. of the surviving child, Jonveyed her interest in the aforesaid tracts of land to Cames Williams, in order that he might (as is alleged) attend to and secure the title.

And it is lastly stated that the said Williams presented the said claims to the Commissioners for confirmation, who rejected them for want of evidence; since which the land has been sold by the United States. The petitioners ask Congress for leave to locate, without payment, the same quantity of land on any vacant land in the State of Mississippi.

The claim of the petitioners having been urged before the committee, with extraordinary solicitude and earnestness, they felt prompted, by a decent respect for the feelings and wishes of those concerned and their advocates, to give the case all the consideration of which they were capable: but, after the most mature deliberation, they feel constrained, by the law and fads appertaining to the case, to decide against the petitioners.

The case now under consideration is purely equitable: addressing itself to the liberality of Congress, and not to its justice. ft does not come within the provisions of any law enacted for the adjustment of land titles in Mississippi, or any of the principles adopted by Congress in other cases. Nor is it believed that, if the country had never been ceded to the United States, the claim would have been recognized by the Spanish Government.

If the committee are disposed to adhere to, and enforce the laws of the United States in this case, there can be no doubt that they would be compelled to reject the application of the petitioners for relief. The most favorable law which can be made to apply to the case is the act of 1803, which requires that the claimant should reside in the country on the 27th, day of October 1795; and, on that day cultivate the land claimed. In this case it is not pretended that Henry Willis lived in the country in 1795. This was not possible because of his death before that time. Nor is it asserted that his heirs were, in 1795, residents in this country. It is admitted that they were not, and that the land was never occupied or cultivated by them, or for their use.
Resolved; That the prayer of the petitioners ought not to be granted.

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